Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Look what I got!

Species name: Euphorbia milii

Common name: crown of thorns

Location: my office!

Yesterday was the annual plant sale here on campus and usually I get a few tomato plants and maybe an herb plant or two for my mom's and my lame attempt at growing our own food (tomatoes seem to dislike us, yet we valiantly try growing them every year...). This year I got some cherry tomatoes and some "prize winning" tomatoes (don't let me down, now!), as well as some clove basil and purple basil (tried both of them; both taste like regular basil). I also saw this gem of a plant there and wanted to snap it up before anyone else got the chance. Understandably, carrying it back to my office was a bit of an undertaking but at least everyone steered clear because they didn't want to be impaled. I have to give special thanks to Jason my office-mate who gave me $0.50 of the $2 purchase price to buy the plant for our office; he is the proud owner of 1/4 of everything you see in the images.

Hopefully you read my blog often enough to know I've blogged about a variety of this plant already during my series of "Plants of the Dominican Republic". If not, what's wrong with you?! Get reading! :) (just kidding; you can find the blog post HERE). So just as a refresher, this plant is native to Madagascar where its native habitat is threatened, and is incredibly toxic from all parts of the plant so extreme care should be taken when handling. I'm glad I knew that already; no one told me that at the plant sale...

So what's exciting about this plant? I mean, aside from the physical attractiveness of the plant itself. Sure, it's a little evil-looking with its giant spines but the flowers are beautiful and the leaves are an awesome colour of bright green. But the other reason why these plants are great is because of the propagation potential: growing a new plant from a stem cutting from an old one is almost idiot-proof. You wait until the plant goes dormant and just looks like a giant stick of spines and cut pieces off. On the original plant the cut point will result in a branching of the plant (so shaping plants is easy simply by pruning), and the cutting can be used to generate a new plant. You wait a few days until the cut end starts to callus over, then put it in a pot with slightly sandy soil. Water once a week, but make sure you let the soil completely dry between waterings or else the cutting will likely rot. Remember that these are succulents; the fastest way to kill the plant is by watering it too often!

BLOG UPDATE: Last weekend I was at my friend Sandra's house helping her out with a garage sale (since I absolutely LOVE garage sales!). The sale itself was less than stellar, probably because it was darn cold on Saturday morning, but Sandra's garden is full of strange and unusual plants. When the sale wasn't busy I wandered around taking pictures of plants in her garden with my iPhone, and will be featuring a "Plants of Sandra's Garden" series over the coming weeks on my blog.